Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Live: Divine Fits/Cold Cave @ Stubb's 10.31.12
It was an Austin sort of Halloween. A batch of mostly twenty-somethings, dressed in various pop-culture referencing costumes for the night, were not spending Halloween inside someone’s house or at a party. They were standing on dusty gravel at Stubb’s to see some bands perform instead. To be fair, they might have been making the right call on how to spend the night. These were not the standard “dress up and play goof covers” Halloween bands, but the driving, noisy synth pop of Cold Cave, and calculated, cool indie rock of indie supergroup Divine Fits. Both bands were nothing short of great, playing off the night and atmosphere to produce two wildly different, but superb sets.
Cold Cave took the stage early at 8:00 p.m. to a relatively, and unfortunately, small crowd. However, that did not stop them from blasting out their material to any and everyone who would listen. With all five members clad head to toe in various articles of black clothes, and front man Wesley Eisold never removing his shades during the entire set, the band set the tone merely by their presence. The band then produced played 45 minutes of loud and distorted synth-pop, drawing from their return to noisy form that they showed off on Cherish the Light Years rather than the cleaner sound of Love Comes Close. Everything got a layer of intensity from the band, which is unsurprising due to Cold Cave now mostly consisting of underground punk and hardcore alumni to back Eisold. While this occasionally lead to a blurring of songs, the high points were many and constant, especially the finale, a blistering version of “The Great Pan is Dead” which someone managed to be more intense than the already powerful studio version.
As good as Cold Cave were though, the night belonged to Divine Fits. There was no flash or fluff to their set; it was just four, well-tuned, indie rock veterans blasting songs they liked to play with the precision of a well-oiled clock. Opening slowly with “Neopoliticans”, the set just built from there as the band notched up the intensity so slowly that it was almost unnoticeable until co-frontman Dan Boeckner was in the crowd while singing “My Love is Real”. The whole night was tradeoffs between Boeckner and fellow front man Britt Daniel, as the band jumped from tense, slinky indie rock to trance like synth jams, the seamlessnes of the band jumping from one style to the next a testament to their quality. Even their choice of covers emphasized this, with the band being able to throw in covers of both a Frank Ocean song and a Tom Petty song without either sounding out of place. The band closed the night with an exceptional cover of “Shivers” that the band poured so much energy into it felt like their amps would explode. Instead, the band pulled off a perfect rock star move of leaping into the air with the finale note and leaving the crowd with gaping mouths.